I do not know about you but one my favorite eats in the winter when I was growing up was anything my mom, aunts and grandma canned during the summer before.  I loved a good serving of home canned green beans.  You may be lucky enough to have that heirloom canner or know who in the family has it.  You can buy new pressure canners but there are some that may be passed down or bought at estate sales or yard sales. While there is definitely nothing wrong with that, it is important that the pressure canner be working properly. The only way to know that is to have it tested to ensure the safety of the food being processed.

If your canner isn’t working properly the foods in the jar can be under-processed, which even in a pressure canner, can increase the chance that botulism spores may still be present in the jars.

Pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning meat, poultry, seafood, and low acid vegetables.

Pressure canners destroy the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum which can be found in low-acid foods when they are processed at the correct time and pressure in pressure canners.

If Clostridium botulinum bacteria survive and grow inside a sealed jar of food, they can produce a poisonous toxin. Even a taste of food containing this toxin can be fatal. Using boiling water bath canners when a pressure canner is intended will pose an increased real risk of botulism poisoning.

Pressure canners for use in the home have been extensively redesigned in recent years. Models made before the 1970’s were heavy-walled kettles with clamp-on or turn-on lids. They were fitted with a dial gauge, a vent port in the form of a petcock or counterweight, and a safety fuse. Modern pressure canners are lightweight, thin walled kettles; most have turn-on lids. The older models are still safe, as long as the dial is accurate, they are just heavier.

Newer models will have a jar rack, gasket, dial or weighted gauge, an automatic vent/cover lock, a vent port (steam vent) to be closed with a counterweight or weighted gauge, and a safety fuse.

Pressure does not destroy microorganisms, but high temperatures applied for an adequate period of time do kill microorganisms. The success of destroying all microorganisms capable of growing in canned food is based on the temperature obtained in pure steam, free of air. A canner operated at a gauge pressure of 10.5 pounds of pressure provides an internal temperature of 240°F.

Green beans and tomatoes are among the most popular vegetables for home canning. Because of their low acidity, vegetables such as green beans must be processed in a pressure canner.

Test your equipment yearly, before the canning season begins for accuracy.  Did you know that our extension office has the ability to check pressure canner to make sure that they are working properly.  I can test your pressure canner for free. Just bring by your canner lid with dial gauge and the rubber seal. It will take about 15 minutes and Now that’s a great deal!  

If you have questions concerning canning or want to have your canner tested come by the Newton County Extension office at 504 West Court Street in Jasper. Call the office at 446-2240 to make sure that I am available to test your unit.

We also have the newest edition of So Easy to Preserve for sale as well as free publications with updated U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for home canning. If your home canning recipes are older than 5 years old, it is time to come get new ones with the latest recommendations.  The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity, equal access and affirmative action institution.

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